Dr. Ames
Physical Chemistry



The departmental mission is to develop those characteristics of excellent scientists that can be acquired by education. In summary these include:

  • The ability to learn.
  • The ability to create new ideas, hypotheses, or alternatives.
  • The ability to make scientifically defensible choices among alternatives.
  • The ability to present scientific work convincingly.


  • The Department should assist students in learning how to learn. More specifically:
    • Students should gain an appropriate base of information. We use the American Chemical Society guidelines to help us determine what is appropriate.
    • All chemistry students should learn the techniques of accessing existing information.
    • Students should become adept at interpreting laboratory data, both quantitative and qualitative, which assumes the ability to apply and interpret basic statistical tests. This also implies that the faculty will foster the professional maturation that allows one to regard anomalies with interest rather than frustration.
    • Students should be provided with the laboratory skills necessary for following instructions prepared by chemists for chemists.
  • The Department should provide an environment in which students' talents are directed toward the formulation and analysis of new scientific ideas.
    • Students should be made constantly aware of the fact that scientific progress depends upon the existence of gaps, misconceptions, and glossed-over anomalies in our present level of understanding.
    • The most important goal of laboratory work should be developing in students the ability to design and undertake their own potentially useful original investigations.
    • Serious efforts should be undertaken in the classroom toward illustrating the role of creativity in science.
  • The Department should emphasize opportunities for students to express themselves and describe their findings, both orally and in writing.
    • Students must gain sufficient experience in delivering oral accounts of their scientific efforts so that they will be perceived as chemistry professionals by other chemistry professionals.
    • Students should become sensitive to the differing needs of different audiences, and gain experience in dealing with this diversity, particularly in the case of oral presentations.
    • Students should learn to defend their scientific beliefs, which suggests the value of engaging in debates based on scientific issues.
    • Interested students should be encouraged to acquire teaching experience by serving as laboratory assistants or tutors.
    • Students should master the fundamentals of written scientific English in a wide variety of formats.
    • Students should be provided with ample opportunity to interact with other chemistry professionals, including visiting scientists.